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Townsend, Devin: Empath

Iconic Canadian musician Devin Townsend has been making music now for decades. Early on in his career the artist worked with Steve Vai and Jason Newsted (Metallica) followed by the formation of Strapping Young Lad. It wasn’t until 1997 when Townsend released his first solo album titled Ocean Machine: Biomech and eighteen studio albums later we get his latest opus Empath. This one is a little bit different in the fact that Townsend dismantled the Devin Townsend Project opting to work with a different set of musicians, although there are some familiar faces to be found. As with many albums these days alternate versions exist, this review is of the two CD limited addition. The extra disc is titled Tests Of manhood.

Townsend explains in the liner notes a little history on how the album and himself have evolved and progressed as an artist. It would seem this was the album Townsend had to make and as such, and after some careful listening this just might be a milestone in his recording career. Townsend has taken all his influences and musical guises and formed them into one magnificent musical ride that any Hevy Devy fan will want to experience.

The first track “Castaway” starts out very serene with gentle guitar and the sounds of waves and shore birds, all very calm and relaxing. The choir vocals add to the overall beauty which lead directly into “Genesis”, a tune exhibiting classic Townsend, all chopped up rhythms, cool electronics and his signature vocals. The orchestrations are bold and as the song gets heavier that classic wall of sound Townsend is so known for bursts forth. Excellent guitar work and interesting sound manipulations will keep any listener on his or her toes. The hook laden “Spirits Will Collide” is more pop driven as is the orchestral “Sprite”, with excellent synths and keyboards. The Gollum-like vocal section adds a touch of creepiness. “Evermore” is built on a nice groove, the choirs adding a touch of the dramatic and Townsend’s dream-like vocals a high point. Change ups ensue as the music takes some unexpected turns as Townsend let’s his creative juices flow. Speaking of creative just listen to the stellar “Why?” incorporating mellow, heavy and orchestral parts blended together to make another mesmerizing piece of music. The main disc concludes with the six part epic “Singularity”. Weird experimental beats and electronics, super catchy vocals and guitar, mellow bliss or an all-out progressive metal assault including some intense growling, this song has it all. Just a fantastic track.

The second disc is titled Tests Of Manhood and consists of nine demos and one other track. There is some interesting stuff here beginning with the pop/electronica mash up “The Contrarian”. Townsend has the innate ability to take the weirdest stuff and give it a catchy hook. With “King”, a cinematic beginning lends way to heavier injections. Some rather dramatic symphonic metal here, done up in Townsend’s own unique way. Never a dull moment, that’s for sure. “The Waiting Kind” is another tune heavy on the electronics and keyboards. Another cool track. The catchy pop of “Empath” has one of the best hooks on the disc.

Empath is one of the most ambitious statements in Townsend’s career thus far. It takes a lot of listens to fully appreciate but if you are at all a fan of Townsend you will soon realize this is ultimately a hugely compelling album and dare say one of his best yet. At least to my ears.

An Inside Out Music release.

Track Listing:
Disc I
1. Castaway
2. Genesis
3. Spirits Will Collide
4. Evermore
5. Sprite
6. Hear Me
7. Why?
8. Borderlands
9. Requiem
10. Singularity
i. Adrift
ii. I Am I
iii. There Be Monsters
iv. Curious Goods
v. Silicon Scientists
vi. Here Comes The Sun!

Disc II: Tests Of Manhood
1. The Contrarian (Demo)
2. King (Demo)
3. The Waiting Kind (Demo)
4. Empath (Demo)
5. Methuselah (Demo)
6. This Is Your Life (Demo)
7. Gulag (Demo)
8. Middle Aged Man
9. Total Collapse (Demo)
10. Summer (Demo)

Added: May 15th 2019
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Score:
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 155
Language: english

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